Washington, October 29 : Voters' trust in elections can be boosted by recruiting new poll workers, according to a new study.
Kent State University's Ryan L. Claassen came to this conclusion after conducting certain exit polls with Brigham Young University researchers Quin Monson, Kelly Patterson and David Magleby.
The team conducted exit polling following the 2006 midterm election in Ohio's Franklin and Summit counties.
The researchers used exit polling to assess voters' reaction to service at voting locations.
They focused on voters' reaction to poll workers since voters' reaction to poll workers has been shown to be related to voters' confidence that their vote will be counted accurately.
Published by American Politics Research, the study showed that voters gave higher marks to precincts staffed by new poll workers recruited from local schools and businesses to take a day off and be "street-level bureaucrats" on Election Day.
"The perceived quality of poll workers matters a great deal, and will particularly be important this November where many voting locations are expected to be crowded. With better service comes more trust and confidence - and trust and confidence are important because when voters lack confidence they have no incentive to participate," says Claassen, Kent State assistant professor of political science.
In Ohio's Franklin County, local employers, unions and teachers were asked to recruit employees and students to serve as poll workers on Election Day. A concentrated effort was made to enlist younger poll workers who might be more comfortable with new voting technology.
During the study, sponsored by Brigham Young's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, showed that both poll workers and voters completed evaluations about their experiences.
The researchers analysed voter evaluations, and found that people gave a more positive evaluation to polling places with the new recruits.
The team also observed that voters' evaluations matched poll workers' confidence in their training.